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      The population-based Barcelona-Asymptomatic Intracranial Atherosclerosis Study (ASIA): rationale and design

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          Abstract

          Background

          Large-artery intracranial atherosclerosis may be the most frequent cause of ischemic stroke worldwide. Traditional approaches have attempted to target the disease when it is already symptomatic. However, early detection of intracranial atherosclerosis may allow therapeutic intervention while the disease is still asymptomatic. The prevalence and natural history of asymptomatic intracranial atherosclerosis in Caucasians remain unclear. The aims of the Barcelona- ASymptomatic Intracranial Atherosclerosis (ASIA) study are (1) to determine the prevalence of ASIA in a moderate-high vascular risk population, (2) to study its prognostic impact on the risk of suffering future major ischemic events, and (3) to identify predictors of the development, progression and clinical expression of this condition.

          Methods/Design

          Cross-over and cohort, population-based study. A randomly selected representative sample of 1,503 subjects with a mild-moderate-high vascular risk (as defined by a REGICOR score ≥ 5%) and with neither a history of cerebrovascular nor ischemic heart disease will be studied. At baseline, all individuals will undergo extracranial and transcranial Color-Coded Duplex (TCCD) ultrasound examinations to detect presence and severity of extra and intracranial atherosclerosis. Intracranial stenoses will be assessed by magnetic resonance angiography (MRA). Clinical and demographic variables will be recorded and blood samples will be drawn to investigate clinical, biological and genetic factors associated with the presence of ASIA. A long-term clinical and sonographic follow-up will be conducted thereafter to identify predictors of disease progression and of incident vascular events.

          Discussion

          The Barcelona-ASIA is a population-based study aiming to evaluate the prevalence and clinical importance of asymptomatic intracranial large-artery atherosclerosis in Caucasians. The ASIA project may provide a unique scientific resource to better understand the dynamics of intracranial atherosclerosis from its early stages and to identify new potential therapeutic targets for this condition.

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          Most cited references 38

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          From vulnerable plaque to vulnerable patient: a call for new definitions and risk assessment strategies: Part I.

          Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease results in >19 million deaths annually, and coronary heart disease accounts for the majority of this toll. Despite major advances in treatment of coronary heart disease patients, a large number of victims of the disease who are apparently healthy die suddenly without prior symptoms. Available screening and diagnostic methods are insufficient to identify the victims before the event occurs. The recognition of the role of the vulnerable plaque has opened new avenues of opportunity in the field of cardiovascular medicine. This consensus document concludes the following. (1) Rupture-prone plaques are not the only vulnerable plaques. All types of atherosclerotic plaques with high likelihood of thrombotic complications and rapid progression should be considered as vulnerable plaques. We propose a classification for clinical as well as pathological evaluation of vulnerable plaques. (2) Vulnerable plaques are not the only culprit factors for the development of acute coronary syndromes, myocardial infarction, and sudden cardiac death. Vulnerable blood (prone to thrombosis) and vulnerable myocardium (prone to fatal arrhythmia) play an important role in the outcome. Therefore, the term "vulnerable patient" may be more appropriate and is proposed now for the identification of subjects with high likelihood of developing cardiac events in the near future. (3) A quantitative method for cumulative risk assessment of vulnerable patients needs to be developed that may include variables based on plaque, blood, and myocardial vulnerability. In Part I of this consensus document, we cover the new definition of vulnerable plaque and its relationship with vulnerable patients. Part II of this consensus document focuses on vulnerable blood and vulnerable myocardium and provide an outline of overall risk assessment of vulnerable patients. Parts I and II are meant to provide a general consensus and overviews the new field of vulnerable patient. Recently developed assays (eg, C-reactive protein), imaging techniques (eg, CT and MRI), noninvasive electrophysiological tests (for vulnerable myocardium), and emerging catheters (to localize and characterize vulnerable plaque) in combination with future genomic and proteomic techniques will guide us in the search for vulnerable patients. It will also lead to the development and deployment of new therapies and ultimately to reduce the incidence of acute coronary syndromes and sudden cardiac death. We encourage healthcare policy makers to promote translational research for screening and treatment of vulnerable patients.
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            Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia in developing countries: prevalence, management, and risk factors.

            Despite mortality due to communicable diseases, poverty, and human conflicts, dementia incidence is destined to increase in the developing world in tandem with the ageing population. Current data from developing countries suggest that age-adjusted dementia prevalence estimates in 65 year olds are high (>or=5%) in certain Asian and Latin American countries, but consistently low (1-3%) in India and sub-Saharan Africa; Alzheimer's disease accounts for 60% whereas vascular dementia accounts for approximately 30% of the prevalence. Early-onset familial forms of dementia with single-gene defects occur in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Illiteracy remains a risk factor for dementia. The APOE epsilon4 allele does not influence dementia progression in sub-Saharan Africans. Vascular factors, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, are likely to increase the burden of dementia. Use of traditional diets and medicinal plant extracts might aid prevention and treatment. Dementia costs in developing countries are estimated to be US$73 billion yearly, but care demands social protection, which seems scarce in these regions.
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              Comparison of warfarin and aspirin for symptomatic intracranial arterial stenosis.

              Atherosclerotic intracranial arterial stenosis is an important cause of stroke. Warfarin is commonly used in preference to aspirin for this disorder, but these therapies have not been compared in a randomized trial. We randomly assigned patients with transient ischemic attack or stroke caused by angiographically verified 50 to 99 percent stenosis of a major intracranial artery to receive warfarin (target international normalized ratio, 2.0 to 3.0) or aspirin (1300 mg per day) in a double-blind, multicenter clinical trial. The primary end point was ischemic stroke, brain hemorrhage, or death from vascular causes other than stroke. After 569 patients had undergone randomization, enrollment was stopped because of concerns about the safety of the patients who had been assigned to receive warfarin. During a mean follow-up period of 1.8 years, adverse events in the two groups included death (4.3 percent in the aspirin group vs. 9.7 percent in the warfarin group; hazard ratio for aspirin relative to warfarin, 0.46; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.23 to 0.90; P=0.02), major hemorrhage (3.2 percent vs. 8.3 percent, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.39; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.18 to 0.84; P=0.01), and myocardial infarction or sudden death (2.9 percent vs. 7.3 percent, respectively; hazard ratio, 0.40; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.18 to 0.91; P=0.02). The rate of death from vascular causes was 3.2 percent in the aspirin group and 5.9 percent in the warfarin group (P=0.16); the rate of death from nonvascular causes was 1.1 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively (P=0.05). The primary end point occurred in 22.1 percent of the patients in the aspirin group and 21.8 percent of those in the warfarin group (hazard ratio, 1.04; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.73 to 1.48; P=0.83). Warfarin was associated with significantly higher rates of adverse events and provided no benefit over aspirin in this trial. Aspirin should be used in preference to warfarin for patients with intracranial arterial stenosis. Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Neurol
                BMC Neurology
                BioMed Central
                1471-2377
                2011
                17 February 2011
                : 11
                : 22
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Neurosciences, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias I Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain
                [2 ]Magnetic Resonance Unit, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias I Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain
                [3 ]Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychobiology, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain
                [4 ]Department of Biochemistry, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias I Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Badalona, Barcelona, Spain
                [5 ]Primary Healthcare Research Support Unit Metropolitana Nord, ICS-IDIAP Jordi Gol, Mataró, Barcelona, Spain
                [6 ]Neurology Service, Stroke Unit, Hospital Clínico Universitario, Valladolid, Spain
                Article
                1471-2377-11-22
                10.1186/1471-2377-11-22
                3050686
                21329527
                Copyright ©2011 López-Cancio et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Study Protocol

                Neurology

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